Fen­land ad­ven­ture

Brush­ing up desert rid­ing tech­nique. In Cam­bridgeshire…

BIKE (UK) - - LIFE - Hugo Wil­son Editor

THE SUN IS UP AND IT’S HOT. All the vents in my ad­ven­ture suit are open, my Camel­back ‘hy­dra­tion sys­tem’ is full of wa­ter and my tinted gog­gles are in place. I’m all set for the Sa­hara. Or for the East Anglian Fens, which are bak­ing in 2018’s, much ap­pre­ci­ated, sum­mer heat­wave. I’ve skived off work this morn­ing to go trail rid­ing with Andy Lon­nen from Cam­bridgeshire TRF. The Trail Riders Fel­low­ship is a cam­paign­ing group that fights to main­tain his­toric rights of way, and it’s also a so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tion that brings peo­ple together to go trail rid­ing. I’m on my old Moto Morini, Andy’s rid­ing a KTM EXC 695, but he started trail rid­ing a few years ago on a BMW R1100GS. Fol­low­ing Andy down the old Fen­land tracks and droves is made harder by the dust. Some­times you can’t see the trail. It hasn’t rained prop­erly for weeks and the ground is rock hard. Main­tain­ing progress on mud might be more of a chal­lenge, but at least it’s soft when you do fall off. In mid-july the com­bine har­vesters are out, but there are no walk­ers, just a few semi-naked sun wor­ship­pers top­ping up their tans. Hav­ing not rid­den my bike on dirt since last au­tumn I’m a bit rusty and it takes a while to set­tle into a re­laxed ride. Stand­ing up straight, lean­ing for­ward, loose grip on the bars, steer with your feet. We’re rid­ing close to Ely and Sut­ton, but I’ve no idea where we’re go­ing. That’s the joy of hav­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cal guide who knows the le­gal rights of way. I just fol­low the dust trail and ob­serve our po­si­tion rel­a­tive to the tower of Ely cathe­dral which rises up from the flat fen land­scape. I’d pre­vi­ously thought a bit of gra­di­ent (up or down) was an es­sen­tial part of a good trail, but these are de­cent routes, though Andy sug­gests they get a lot harder in win­ter slime, and there are plenty of them. Back at our start point af­ter two hours we’ve cov­ered 35 miles, with maybe 50% off tar­mac The Cam­bridgeshire TRF group has around 110 mem­bers and or­gan­ise a led-ride ev­ery month. These vary be­tween short two hour rides and all day events, typ­i­cally at­tract­ing four to seven riders. ‘I don’t think there is a typ­i­cal mem­ber,’ says Andy, ‘some peo­ple ride big ad­ven­ture bikes, but they tend not to come out in the win­ter. I started on a GS, but they’re too heavy re­ally. We have some riders on 350 and 450 en­duro bikes too. I think my 690 is a per­fect com­pro­mise, but you can do it on al­most any­thing re­ally.’ There are 46 re­gional TRF groups in Eng­land and Wales. They are the best way to meet and ride with other peo­ple on le­gal rights of way. But the cam­paign­ing func­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion is just as im­por­tant. Find your lo­cal group at trf.org.uk

‘The com­bine har­vesters are out, but there are no walk­ers, just a few semi-naked sun wor­ship­pers top­ping up tans’

Been rid­ing for: 41 years Owns: 3x Moto Mori­nis, a 1948 Matchless and a 1965 Mobylette.

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